Lesson Plan

Drafting the Basic Elements of a Short Story


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Big Ideas




Students will use their understanding of story elements—characterization, plot, conflict, setting, and point of view—to complete a graphic organizer for a first draft of their own short story. Students will:

  • identify and use intensive pronouns.
  • understand and implement story structure (exposition, rising action, climax, resolution) and other literary elements in their own short story.
  • identify methods of characterization and apply those methods to develop their own characters.
  • use understanding of setting to develop their own settings.
  • apply the principle of showing not telling in their own writing.
  • discriminate among points of view and determine the best one to employ in their own story.
  • complete a graphic organizer with elements for a first draft of their own short story.
  • discuss their story ideas with classmates and implement feedback.
  • listen to and respond to the ideas of other students.

Essential Questions

  • Why do writers write? What is the purpose?
  • What makes clear and effective writing?
  • Who is the audience? What will work best for the audience?
  • How do grammar and the conventions of language influence spoken and written communication?


  • Characterization: The method an author uses to reveal characters and their various personalities.
  • Climax: The turning point in a narrative; the moment when the conflict is at its most intense. Typically, the structure of stories, novels, and plays is one of rising action, in which tension builds to the climax.
  • Conflict/Problem: A struggle or clash between opposing characters, forces, or emotions.
  • Exposition: Writing that explains something, often in the beginning of a story.
  • Falling Action: All of the action in a story that follows the turning point or climax. The falling action leads to the resolution or conclusion of the story.
  • Imagery: Language that appeals to any sense or any combination of the senses.
  • Intensive/Reflexive Pronoun: A pronoun that refers back to the subject of the sentence; it emphasizes a noun or pronoun in the sentence.
  • Literary Devices: Tools used by the author to enliven and provide voice to the writing (e.g., dialogue, alliteration).
  • Literary Elements: The essential techniques used in literature (e.g., characterization, setting, plot, theme).
  • Plot: The structure of a story. The sequence in which the author arranges events in a story. The structure often includes the exposition, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution. The plot may have a protagonist who is opposed by an antagonist, creating what is called conflict.
  • Resolution: The portion of a story following the climax, in which the conflict is resolved. The resolution of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is neatly summed up in the following sentence: “Henry and Catherine were married, the bells rang and everybody smiled.”
  • Rising Action: The part of a story where the plot becomes increasingly complicated. Rising action leads up to the climax, or turning point.
  • Setting: The time and place in which a story unfolds.


150–200 minutes/3–4 class periods

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  • “Show, Don’t Tell.” Daily Writing Tips:


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